Fighting for equal pay for Southeast Asian American women

Cropped Infographic for AAPI Equal Pay Day (Photo Credit: NAPAWF)

By Guest Contributors: Sung Yeon Choimorrow and Vimala Phongsavanh, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum

Disaggregated data indicates that Southeast Asian women in the U.S. are making on average 61 cents to the white male dollar — and this pay disparity is hurting their ability to make choices about their bodies, their lives, and their families.

Imagine having to work an extra nine months to for your pay to catch up to that of a white American man. For millions of Southeast Asian American women, this is no fictional scenario.

In 1981, Vimala’s parents and sister fled the country of Laos to escape political persecution and arrived in Rhode Island as refugees. Just a few months after settling in, her mother, Kongdeaune, began working at a factory where she ended up being paid the same minimum wage for the next 35 years of her life. She worked many 16 hour days just to be able to afford to give her kids a comfortable life and send some money back home to her family in Laos — and she did all of this without paid sick leave or vacation. Vimala saw the weight of the financial burden take a toll on her mother’s emotional and physical health. Women like Kongdeaune would have greatly benefited from equal pay and — and it’s about time they get it.

Continue reading “Fighting for equal pay for Southeast Asian American women”

The Illusion of the Asian American Dream

Elaine Chao

Asian Americans are often lauded as a “model minority” that has achieved complete acceptance into American society. But silent and pervasive racism has shown that American identity was never meant to include people who look like me.

By Guest Contributor: Sung Yeon Choimorrow, Executive Director, NAPAWF

Throughout Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM), I have reflected on the stories I’ve heard about the deeply frustrating lack of visibility of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs). While many Asian Americans are often referred to as “model minorities” whose stereotyped high achievements provide them a proxy to whiteness and American identity, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. We continue to suffer from microaggressions, are still seen as perpetual foreigners, and have repeatedly been denied the ability to shine beyond the stereotypes of our communities — which were shaped by decades of American history and foreign policy. So on the last day of APAHM, I’m still thinking about why we are still striving to figure out where and how we fit into the fabric of this country. Because oftentimes, we have to fight just to be seen as American.

Continue reading “The Illusion of the Asian American Dream”

Why NIFLA v. Becerra is a Watershed Moment for Women of Color

The U.S. Supreme Court building.

By Guest Contributor: Sung Yeon Choimorrow, Executive Director, NAPAWF

This week, as the Supreme Court begins hearing NIFLA v. Becerra, we need to remember what is at stake. This is a case that could redefine public accountability for organizations that provide false information or mislead women about their reproductive health options under the guise of religious freedom.

For years, fake women’s health centers have exploited women by masquerading as real health clinics, often locating next to real clinics, adopting nearly identical names, and even clothing their non-medical staff in scrubs – all to give the impression of being accredited health providers. The plaintiff in the case now before the Supreme Court, the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA), joins these fake women’s health centers in trying to overturn the Reproductive FACT Act – a commonsense California law which requires these storefront operations to explain that they are not a licensed medical facility and provide information on how to find one.

This law was enacted to curb the harm caused by fake health centers and reduce the delays in getting real care that women experience when they are duped by these blame-and-shame tactics. Women need accurate information about their options when it comes to pregnancy and family planning – not politically-motivated shame, coercion, or misinformation. We need to expose the truth about these fake centers before their lies endanger the health and safety of any more pregnant women – especially low-income pregnant women, women of color, and immigrants.

Continue reading “Why NIFLA v. Becerra is a Watershed Moment for Women of Color”

It’s 2017 and AAPI Women Still Aren’t Getting Equal Pay for Equal Work | #AAPIEqualPay

Screen capture of video for AAPI Equal Pay Day. (Photo credit: NAPAWF)

Today is AAPI Equal Pay Day, a day to highlight the persistent wage gap experienced by AAPI women, transgender, and non-binary people. In fact, even though the AAPI community is the fastest-growing racial community in America, AAPI women continue to make only 85 cents to the dollar a White, non-Hispanic man of comparable education earns.

Over the course of a lifetime, that can translate to nearly half a million dollars in lost income for AAPI women compared to White male co-workers. In fact, an AAPI woman has to achieve a master’s degree or higher just to be paid the same wage as a White man who has earned a bachelor’s degree. Alternatively, AAPI women must work on average an extra two months to receive the same annual income as a White man.

Average annual income for Asian American women and White men, compared to educational attainment. (Photo credit: NWLC)

When examining the in-race wage gap, the statistics are even more dire. Within the AAPI community, AAPI women make only about 80 cents to the dollar AAPI men earn. This translates to the largest in-group gender wage gap across all races or ethnicities.

Continue reading “It’s 2017 and AAPI Women Still Aren’t Getting Equal Pay for Equal Work | #AAPIEqualPay”

Appeals Court Dismisses NAACP & NAPAWF Lawsuit Challenging Arizona’s Racist Anti-Abortion Ban

racism-hurts-arizona

Earlier this year, I named the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) one of my Giving Tuesday Top 5 organizations for their tireless advocacy around racial justice and women’s rights. NAPAWF has been at the forefront of many key issues relevant to the the AANHPI community, chief among them reproductive rights. For years, NAPAWF has engaged in a state-by-state fight to protect our reprodictive rights (which is of particular importance for the AANHPI community) in part by challenging conservative efforts to rollback abortion access with overtly race-baiting bans on abortions if doctors find that the procedure is sought for reasons such as fetal sex. Despite the lack of any evidence that women are seeking such abortions in any significant numbers, these restrictions are passed on the basis of stereotyping of Black, Asian and immigrant parents as immoral and sexist. Further, these racist laws have received scant commentary or criticism from mainstream media or center-aisle Democrats.

Two years ago, NAPAWF joined forces with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to file a lawsuit challenging one particularly vile and racist abortion ban in Arizona, which is noteworthy for its unusually explicit fear-mongering of Black and Asian women during debate that preceded passage of this as the first bill to ban race-selective abortion in addition to sex-selective abortion.

Continue reading “Appeals Court Dismisses NAACP & NAPAWF Lawsuit Challenging Arizona’s Racist Anti-Abortion Ban”